I’ll listen to everything that I’m told, but I almost never listen to a) my father or b) political news. Both are fond of grand pronouncements, hyperbolic accusations and statements resulting in a sense of self-loathing the likes of which The National Enquirer can only dream of publishing.
It’s fortunate that the one time I actually did listen to my father was in regards to politics – a double whammy that filled up my aural assault quota quite nicely, thank you very much. He told me that the population of Ireland is close to the population of Manchester, but we have as many political representatives as country ten times Ireland’s size. The result is a tin-pot government, unable or unwilling to pull itself out of the country’s present funk due to a lethal combination of corruption, ineptitude and a misguided sense of self-entitlement.
Ireland needs a Maggie Thatcher. Calm down now, put down your pitchforks and Poll Tax paraphenalia, I’m not suggesting for a nanosecond that Ireland needs a woman who refuses people a fair wage, denies small children their calcium and plays with the power grid as if it was a tricky dimmer switch.
Margaret Thatcher was the Iron Lady, a politician that you could legitimately hate for legitimate reasons. With her navy blue power shoulders and impervious helmet of hair, she personified the cold, steely, uncaring gaze of an impassive statue, unflinching at the chaos she was causing. Our politicians bumble about more than the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers in a bouncy castle and retain the slightly greasy sheen of stress-induced sweating as if was going out of fashion (which it is). The rumpled suits of Brian Cowen only add to his frazzled ‘Whoops, there goes the Central Bank!’ aura. The shoulders of his suits are cut exclusively for faux-contrite shrugging or incredibly defensive prognostication. Ireland’s politicians are every bit as as bad as Thatcher; their shambolic, pseudo-apologetic clothing is the only thing to dictate otherwise.
We need politicians to smarten up and fly right. The adoption of Margaret Thatcher as a sartorial National Treasure in Britain despite the deep well of public hatred (she was photographed for Vogue by Mario Testino in 2008) should draw attention to the power of the right suit in the face of gross ineptitude. We need a decisive leader who can take charge, preferably with a swift jab of an Aquascutum handbag and the flash of a well-turned out ankle (Brian Lenihan or Enda Kenny, I’m looking at you).
What we really need are some good politicians, but since that’s a near impossibility, we should just tart up the terrible ones that we have. Give them some small veneer of public professionalism with the right clothing and attitude, and we’ll have reason to double our complaints. Backcomb Mary Harney’s hair and cement with a pint of hairspray into the eponymous Thatch, pop her into a pair of suitable Ferragamos and presto! We have a new Maggie.
A term coined appropriately at the apex of Reaganism and Thatcherism, ‘politics is showbusiness for ugly people’ still stands strong today. And if that really is the case, then we’re all watching Eastenders – not Questions and Answers.